BY ERICA MCQUEEN
Josh Fountain has seen a lot of success as a producer in New Zealand, and is working closely with Ignite to provide an opportunity for aspiring producers (between 15-18 years old in Auckland) to break into the industry. ERICA MCQUEEN sat down with him for a chat about his journey in music production, and on being a mentor for the upcoming Ignite Programme.
How did your journey in music production begin?
It started when I got a PlayStation game on a demo disk, a demo of a game called Music2000. It was a music game where you put blocks of music together, put blocks of drums and loops and stuff together to build music, and I guess that’s what got me interested in it because I used to play that game for ages and you couldn’t save so you had to create something new from scratch every time and that got me interested in making music. I didn’t do music at school or anything, and then I kinda followed the normal route of getting a cracked version of FruityLoops on my computer and mucked around making sounds on there. I kind of realised that that’s what I really enjoyed doing, and I was lucky enough to have supportive parents who encouraged me to do something I enjoyed, because I wasn’t very good at school. I did seventh form but I wasn’t very academic. All of my friends seemed to be going to uni to do a BCom, which I could have gone and done, but I chose to give music a go instead. Before that, I had wanted to be a DJ. So in one of my last years at school I did this free DJ course that was going on at MAINZ. That’s how I heard about MAINZ, and in the process of doing the DJ course I realised that what I really enjoyed was taking bits of music and changing it, that I wanted to make the music rather than just play other peoples music. After school I ended up doing the Audio Engineering and Music Production course at MAINZ. There’s a certificate and a diploma year and I did both those years, so two years.
And what did you do after that?
I was working at Warehouse Stationery. I didn’t go straight into doing music. You don’t know where to begin unless you’ve come up through bands, but even then it’s hard to get your foot in the door. It’s not really the kind of industry where you’re like ‘here’s my qualification, here’s my CV, give me a job’. But I ended up getting a call from one of my old lecturers from MAINZ, maybe six months after I finished, saying that there was a job opening up at a place called Woodcut Studios. They did music for TV commercials and TV theme tunes…and they also had a record label called Move The Crowd. They had just signed a group called Smashproof who would go on to do big things. I started working there and that was kind of how I got started in the industry, doing music for ads and stuff.
So you are a mentor on the Ignite Program. Why did you want to take part in the Ignite Program and give back, so to speak?
I’ve worked very hard to get where I am, but I’ve also gotten lucky. And I see all these young people coming through who are so talented, and I feel like it’s time for me to start sharing some of the stuff that I’ve learnt and help people out with honing their skills and maybe connect them up with people. I saw from the first Ignite how much it meant to the kids, and how the kids who did that first one have gone on to be way move involved in the industry and get their foot in the door. And I remember from when I was wanting to do music production back at school, you don’t know where to begin or what to do with any music that you do have or, even, you want to be a producer but how do you find someone to produce if you’re not producing your own music. I like the idea of being able to pass on stuff to the next generation.
I guess there’s an element of who you know, and you can introduce them to a lot of people that might be able to give them a hand up.
Yeah, it is true. Then there’s the industry side of knowing the right people, knowing who are the people to get your music to, or how to go about doing that thing.
Did you have a mentor in music when you were younger?
I guess when I first started working at Woodcut there were a couple of guys there. One of the producers there, Juse [Justin Ferguson], he taught me a few things here or there and I could play my music to him. Joel [Little] has been a bit of a mentor to me in the sense of when I have questions about things I can flick him an email and he can give me advice on what to do. Whenever he’s back we catch up and he can show me what he’s been working on and we can talk about music stuff.
If you’re interested in applying to take part in the Ignite Program, for either Event Management or Music Production Stream jump over to the Ignite Website. Applications close this Sunday 11th March at 6pm.
Lover of a good handshake, novel reader, music listener, photographer, crime show watcher and compulsive napper, Erica is your go-to for some good NZ music banter. See what she gets up to on Instagram (@emcqs)!
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